APR 21 2020

There were about 300 of us. That was a large graduating class for our community. Most of us were friends. The band geeks cheered the sports teams on. The cheerleaders supported the high school musicals. The jocks stood up for the nerds. Even the stoners and the loners were welcome at any lunch table.?
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What about gangs? There was a gang of tough boys called The Amigos. They ruled the school, committing random acts of kindness wherever they went.?
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If it all seems a bit idyllic, that’s because it was. At least, that’s how I remember it. And why question a memory as pleasant as all that? Of course, if I thought about it hard enough, I’m sure I’d find plenty of problems. I’m sure other graduates from the Class of ’96 might remember things differently. But for me, it was a safe place where I could be myself. I could enjoy myself. I could find myself.?
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You could say I was a nerd. I’ll own that. I was in every band, every musical, every pep rally. I was often the first to arrive and the last to leave every day. I stayed about as busy as a high school kid could be.?
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See, I was battling depression, the only way I knew how: to stay so busy I didn’t have time to feel sorry for myself. So, I directed the pep band. Led the marching band. President of the drama club. Goofed off in concert band. Had the time of my life in jazz band.?
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Ah, jazz band! That’s where my core group of friends lived. We started rehearsals early every morning. We hung out during lunch. We jammed after school. We went everywhere together. If we weren’t off playing a dance or a jazz festival, we were hanging out at each other’s houses. ?
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I sat next to Pam. She could sing. She could play. She was beautiful. She was funny. She was a dear friend. ?
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She still is. All those things. 24 years later.?
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I still live in the same little town. I still deal with depression. I still stay busy. I still stay in touch with the class of ’96. I still sit next to Pam. I still love her.?
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Now, we watch our children grow up, as busy as we were, surrounded by wonderful friends like we had. I guess that’s life in a small town. And the beat goes on.?
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And the beat goes on.?
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Today’s cufflink is: HIGH SCHOOL.
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